Here's an NPR interview with Gov. Mark Warner, chairman of the NGA and future Democratic presidential candidate, from Friday, just before the beginning of the summit.
Schwarzenegger and Jeb Bush did not attend. Anyone know why?
News and commentary on education, politics, and the intersection of the two.
The high-stakes testing associated with the law seems to be demoralizing teachers, students, and administrators. We need more documentation on this but, in talking with people all over the country, I hear stories of sick and frightened children, dispirited teachers, and administrators disgusted with the strategies they must use to meet (or evade) AYP, the adequate-yearly-progress requirement. A good law does not demoralize good people.
The curriculum seems to be suffering. We need more evidence to state this as fact, but reports from many sources are suggestive. If the No Child Left Behind legislation was designed to provide better schooling, especially for poor and minority students, this result is deeply troubling. For it is the curriculum of these children that seems to have been gutted. Wealthier kids, in schools that dont have to worry so much about test scores, may still enjoy arts, music, drama, projects, and critical conversation. But poor kids are spending far too much time bent over worksheets and test-prep materials.
Our poor and minority students are hurt again by the high-stakes testing under No Child Left Behind. Disproportionately, they are the kids who are retained in grade, forced into summer school (for more test prep), beaten down by repeated failure, and deprived of a high school diploma. If we really wanted to help poor, inner-city kids, we would not try to do so by imposing a bad law on everyone. We would identify the problem and muster massive resources to solve it: provide money to renovate crumbling buildings, add clinics (especially dental and vision) to school campuses, provide day care for infants and small children, recruit the finest teachers with significantly higher pay, and even provide boarding facilities for homeless children and those caught in family emergencies. We would establish on-site research-and-development teams (in cooperation with universities) to experiment with, develop, implement, monitor, and evaluate promising practices. Understanding that schools and kids are not all alike, these would be long-term R&D projects serving particular schoolsnot research projects looking for what works universally. We could do these things if we had the will, and if we would stop wasting enormous sums on testing, compliance measures, and the host of activities associated with testing.
The law seems to be a corrupting influence. Again, we need more documentation. But reports suggest that cheating has increased at every level, and administrators are busily seeking loopholes, using triage techniques, moving kids around and reclassifying them, playing with dataall to meet the letter of a law whose actual requirements cannot reasonably be met... If the No Child Left Behind Act is corrupting, we should get rid of it.
[I'm] seeing a serious frustration everywhere I speak. [Teachers and educators are concerned] that they’re taking the creative teaching out of the classroom and it’s too much “teaching to the test.” They ought to have No Child Left Behind, but they ought to have more flexibility and we ought to have the federal government be a partner with the states and fund it. If you demand more, you ought to pay more.
Faced with the prospect of tagging nearly half of the state's school districts with failing grades under the federal accountability system, Texas Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley instead changed the rules to reduce the number of failing schools sixfold.
The move, described by some as a direct challenge to the U.S. Department of Education's enforcement of the controversial No Child Left Behind Act, sets up a potential showdown between Neeley and the Bush administration.
National education observers said Neeley's move makes Texas the first state to outright refuse to follow the law's requirements.
Texas receives more than $1 billion in federal money tied to compliance with No Child Left Behind. Some of that money could be in jeopardy, depending on how federal officials react to Neeley's decision. The TEA released grades Friday.
[We need] a wholesale revamping of teaching and learning. The conservatives have their ideas, and many of them are good, such as charter schools and even vouchers. But give me a single liberal idea with some currency, even a structural notion, for transforming the elucidation of knowledge and thinking to the young. You can't.
The freshmen at Wheaton High often seemed lost, overwhelmed by new faces and classes that felt disconnected. So the school got its houses in order.
Wheaton gave ninth-graders their own community -- a separate wing of the high school and teams called "houses," in which about 100 students share classes and teachers all year.
Now, in a building of 1,470 students, class sizes for freshmen rarely go above 20 students in the core subjects. Teachers of English, math, science and social studies meet regularly to coordinate their lessons and to figure out how to help struggling students.
Since this Ninth Grade Academy began three years ago, the school has seen freshman attendance improve, advancement to the sophomore year rise, and classroom disruptions drop.
"The students are very focused, and calmer than most ninth-graders I've seen," said assistant principal Virginia de los Santos. "I've seen students turn themselves around."
Wheaton's experiment with the school-within-a-school idea is part of a trend that keeps growing in popularity more than 30 years after it first emerged. Roughly 3,000 academies exist in different forms across the country, an example of how U.S. school leaders are trying to make high schools more meaningful -- a mission that's suddenly a national priority.
Read any overview of [Presidents Bush's budget] proposal, and you can see exactly who's getting screwed: children.
Good Lord, what a nasty document. The cuts are in health care, childcare, Head Start, nutrition programs, food stamps and foster care. Because budgets are such abstract things – add a little here, cut some there, all produced by the Department of Great Big Numbers – it's hard to see what they actually mean to real people's lives.
In fact, that's something I've long noticed about George W. Bush: He really doesn't see any connection between government programs and helping people. Promoting the general welfare, one of the six reasons the Constitution gives for having a government in the first place, is not high on his list. I refer you back to his immortal statement while governor: "No children are going to go hungry in this state. You'd think the governor would have heard if there are pockets of hunger in Texas." He'd been governor for five years at the time.
What this budget means, quite literally, is that more kids will be hungry and malnourished. More kids who get sick will be unable to see a doctor, more kids with diseases will go undiagnosed until they get so sick they have to be carried to the emergency room. More kids who need glasses or hearing aids won't get them, causing them to fall behind in school. More kids will show up to start school without being in the least prepared, and they will remain behind for the rest of their days. Less money for childcare means more kids left alone or in unsafe places with irresponsible or incapable people while their parents work. More kids who are being severely abused will go unnoticed, and fewer of them will find safe foster homes.
Today, we honor the 43 citizens who have held the title of President of the United States. We celebrate their commitment and dedication. We cherish their visions for the great promise of this nation. And we remember the trials each of them faced in office.